Five From Finland
Believe it when you hear it – Finnish expertise in sound and acoustics is far from white noise.Julia Bushueva
Listen up! These five Finnish companies are worth hearing about.
Finland is known for its cultural appreciation of silence. But when it comes to sound, Finnish tech minds are bringing leading innovations to the world. The country is home to a big number of high-end audio electronics manufacturers, as well as companies seeking to ensure the most comfortable soundscapes for people.
Let’s make some noise for this quintet of Finnish innovators exploring sonic possibilities on the global stage.
Founded by Ilpo Martikainen and Topi Partanen in 1978, the Iisalmi-based award-winning manufacturer of active loudspeaker systems has become the epitome of pure sound, top-class quality and sustainable Finnish design.
“Genelec has always had to fight its way forward and persevere in the industry,” stated CEO Siamäk Naghian. “The company’s main feats in its journey have been the focus on research and development, quality, boldness to be different and a societal responsibility to the community here. Today we make the best equipment in the world and our brand is one of the strongest there is.”
The company is also doing its part in supporting educational programmes that help young people to realise their dreams through music. Amid the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, Genelec launched G SongLab, an online initiative enabling young people to learn songwriting and music creation at home.
With its patented technology that combines sound and the sensation of touch, Flexound aims to create a one-of-a-kind experience for cinemagoers, gamers, music lovers and many other types of users. Originally designed as a therapy tool for autistic children, the company’s augmented audio solution is now in high demand in the entertainment sector, as well as the automotive and aerospace industries.
The startup has been steadily growing its global clientele with a special focus on B2B activities. For premium theatres and cinema operators, such as Cineum Cannes in France and United Cinemas in Japan, Flexound provides added value in the form of both an enhanced customer experience and energy efficiency.
“Since sound films were introduced 100 years ago practically all entertainment has been designed for our eyes and ears only,” said former CEO Mervi Heinaro. “Our technology adds a third sense, the sense of touch, to audio and digital entertainment and makes it a more immersive experience.”
On a mission to improve the soundscapes of both public spaces and private homes, Turku-based Soften has been designing and producing a wide range of acoustic panels, space dividers and lamps since 2007. Besides their excellent sound-damping properties, Soften’s products are also pleasant on the eye and allow the building of adaptable decorative entities.
“Of course, our core focus is acoustics, but besides that the most important factor for us is how a product looks,” stressed CEO and founder Sami Helle. “We aim to make stylish and easily transformable products which you are not ashamed to put on display in any space.”
Sustainability is another crucial element of the company’s policy: 95 per cent of the raw materials used by Soften originate in recycled materials, such as PET-bottles. Previously, Soften participated in the Telaketju project to explore the possibilities of producing acoustic panels from recycled textiles.
Trusted by both music studio professionals and home audio enthusiasts, Amphion has made a name for itself for building loudspeakers that are “beautifully honest”. In a market dominated by active acoustic systems, Amphion believes in achieving longer lifetime and better results by keeping their speakers passive.
“Our job as a speaker manufacturer is to open a large, clean window to music and allow the customer to experience music in an intimate, touching way regardless of his or her surroundings,” pointed out founder and CEO Anssi Hyvönen. “The goal is to come up with a pure, highly transparent loudspeaker that will vanish, leaving just the music.”
The company is headquartered in Kuopio and assembles all products in-house, thus being able to have full control over quality. The approach has resonated well among customers and distributors in different parts of the world, as well as top sound producers working with global celebrities. Among them, as marketing manager Julian Hyvönen revealed, are Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Kanye West.
The interior acoustics of a space can significantly affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and that is why construction companies and industry regulators are increasingly paying attention to acoustic materials in buildings. However, conventional sound absorbers are not always safe.
Lumir is tackling the problem by using natural cellulose fibres to create sprayable coatings and other acoustic materials that are good for both the environment and our health. The company’s sustainable solutions have helped to improve acoustic comfort in many offices, shopping centres, schools, hospitals and museums across Finland, and even in the Finnish Parliament House.
“We found that in the soundproofing business, nobody had actually questioned the basic equations of acoustics for a very long time. Everything was taken as a given,” said R&D director Tuomas Hänninen. “But we’ve discovered that wood fibres can perform much better than synthetic ones, particularly at lower frequencies.”